'If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention': Virginia murder victim's last Facebook post

'I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality,' says victim's mother

Sunday 13 August 2017 21:54 BST
32-year-old paralegal was killed when a car ploughed into protesters
32-year-old paralegal was killed when a car ploughed into protesters

The 32-year-old woman killed when a car drove into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, left a telling last post on Facebook which is now being shared on social media in her honour.

Heather Heyer's final message, written last year, read simply: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

"Heather was about bringing an end to injustice," her mother told The Huffington Post. "I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”

Ms Heyer's boss at the law firm where she worked said she wanted to send a clear message to the neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan sympathisers who planned to stage one of the largest far-right rallies in recent US history that people abhor their views in the city where she was born.

A strong sense of social justice was a constant theme in Ms Heyer's personal and working life, said Alfred Wilson, bankruptcy division manager at the Miller Law Group.

“There have been times that I've walked back to her office and she had tears in her eyes” for various injustices she saw in the world, said Mr Wilson, citing one occasion when she had cried after reading anti-Muslim comments online.

Ms Heyer was “a very strong, very opinionated young woman” who “made known that she was all about equality,” he told Reuters.

The two had worked closely since Ms Heyer joined the firm about five years ago.

“Purple was her favourite color,” said Mr Wilson. “She would wear purple a lot, and she would wear it every day if she could get away with it.”

Ms Heyer, who lived in a duplex apartment in the town, also named her beloved pet Chihuahua Violet.

Born in Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia's main campus, Ms Heyer was raised in a nearby town and graduated from William Monroe High School in Stanardsville.

A big part of Ms Heyer's job was to help people who were trying to avoid being evicted from their homes or have their cars repossessed, or who needed help paying medical bills, he said.

Ms Heyer was a supporter of Bernie Sanders, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination won by Hillary Clinton, Mr Wilson said.

As a white woman, she thought it unfair that she enjoyed liberties that Mr Wilson, as a black man, did not, he said.

“You're college-educated, but if you walk into the store you may have people following you, and it's not fair,” Mr Wilson quoted Ms Heyer as having said to him often.

Ms Heyer, he added, was strongly opposed to Donald Trump, and she also spoke out against Jason Kessler, the blogger who organised the “Unite the Right” rally that was broken up before it began on Saturday.

“A big thing that bothered Heather was this whole past election,” said Mr Wilson. “She would literally sit in the office and cry at times because she was worried about what was going to happen to the country."

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